Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spring 2012 Projects


We really enjoyed the diversity of our projects this spring, which called on a variety of skills such as curriculum development, stakeholder and systems assessment, and facilitated dialogue. HNMCP students assisted with the difficult conversations around health care for a religious institution and the struggles of lawyers and NGOs in China working in disability law. They assessed dispute resolution systems embedded in government agencies as well as whether the formation of a peer-to-peer DR system was the right place for a university to sink its energies. And they assessed the burgeoning efforts at online dispute resolution in the EU and made recommendations to the United Nations. Each of HNMCP’s six projects has provided students with a unique set of challenges and clients.


Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has traditionally required congregations to cover 100% of the health insurance premiums of clergy and lay employees. Recently, the Diocese considered a change in the policy which was met with strong reactions and divisive conversations. HNMCP students interviewed clergy, lay employees, and congregation members to determine the interests and values underlying the compensation issue.  In April, the students presented their findings and recommendations for how the Diocese could engage stakeholders in a productive conversation.  As a part of their recommendations, the students modeled a facilitated dialogue between clergy members over the health care premium issues.


Michigan State University College of Law
MSU College of Law is interested in creating a peer mediation program to empower students to resolve their issues in an informal process that encourages shared communication, learning opportunities, and creative and lasting solutions. HNMCP students conducted a conflict needs assessment with the students, faculty, and staff to determine whether peer mediation would be a useful way of managing conflict at the law school and, if so, how the school could effectively implement the program. The students provided detailed survey data from students and targeted recommendations for a program that would meet the needs of the MSU College of Law community.
Modria is an online dispute resolution (ODR) services and technology company that has led in the ODR field since its inception. This project focused on Modria’s effort to help design an online dispute resolution system to meet the European Union’s mandate for an EU-wide single online platform for contractual dispute resolution. HNMCP students provided a summary report of recommendations for the ODR system design, which it presented to both Modria and to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in New York.



Renmin University School of Law
Renmin University Disability Law Clinic (DLC) is part of the law school curriculum at Renmin University of China School of Law. Among its activities, the Renmin DLC works with disabled persons organizations to advance the rights of disabled citizens in China. In an effort to help DPO representatives strengthen their ability to communicate effectively with government and other key decision makers, HNMCP students created a negotiation and consensus building curriculum for the Renmin DLC to help equip leading DPOs with the tools necessary to achieve their advocacy goals.



U.S. Department of Transportation/Volpe Center
The Volpe Center, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), in conjunction with the Federal Railroad Administration has implemented a confidential reporting system for “close calls” to help identify safety hazards. HNMCP worked with the Volpe Center to evaluate and refine the dispute resolution process that will be part of that reporting system.



U.S. Office of Special Counsel
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is a federal prosecutorial agency whose primary mission is to protect federal employees and others from “prohibited personnel practices” (PPP), including the deliberate targeting of whistleblowers for punishment. HNMCP students assessed the OSC’s current mediation program and offered critical analysis of and creative recommendations for how the OSC can best employ ADR to process cases.